Gov’t cancels PDS deal despite US opposition

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Information reaching Citi News is that government has finally terminated the Power Distribution Services’ concession agreement with the Electricity Company of Ghana, ECG.

The termination, Citi News gather, is on the insistence of the Ghana government, against the position  of the US government which was insisting that the PDS concession should remain in order to save the $498 million compact with the Millennium Challenge Account.

The concession agreement was suspended on July 30 this year by government due to what it called “fundamental and material breaches”.

The MCC was unhappy with the suspension, insisting the government of Ghana acted too hastily.

However, Citi News is reliably informed that the President insisted that his priority is to protect the critical national asset, the national electricity distribution entity.

According to government, PDS failed to provide demand guarantees for such an agreement, and what was provided turned out to be fake.

A full-scale investigation was therefore launched into the deal with ECG returning to operations.

A delegation was dispatched to Qatar and the United States as part of investigations into the deal.

The information reaching Citi News further suggests that US authorities are displeased with the decision by government to cancel the contract.

According to the source, government had a deadline to agree to a compromise by the Americans that PDS must stay, and that they will agree to government’s original suggestion before the concession was awarded, which is to bring in institutional investors.

After a back and forth, government opted for a termination despite the risk of losing the remaining $190m of the Compact, and an additional $500 million from the pending regional compact.

Among other things, the US has threatened to stop Ghana from enjoying the rest of the Millennium Challenge Compact which was the basis for the PDS-ECG Concession agreement.

The threat is not only for America to blacklist Ghana, but that the country will lose nearly $700 million from America, and $1 billion from the World Bank which is controlled by the US, the source said.

Government is in the process of concluding a $1 billion facility from the World Bank, which our sources at Washington say it is now in jeopardy.

Another source in Government thinks the President was right to do what he thought was right for Ghana even at the risk of losing some $1.7 billion in all.

All these facilities are for the energy sector and linked to energy reforms including Ghana putting ECG on concession to a private operator.

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson has recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder in the US, after health regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in a bottle purchased online.

The company said it had launched an investigation and repeated prior tests have not found asbestos.

The recall comes as the firm is facing thousands of lawsuits from people who claim its talc products caused cancer.

Johnson & Johnson has strongly denied those accusations.

The firm said it had initiated the voluntary recall of one lot of baby powder, produced and shipped in the US in 2018, out of “an abundance of caution”.

It said it was working with the Food and Drug Administration to determine the integrity of the test and the validity of the results finding asbestos, including whether the product was counterfeit and if the bottle’s seal had been broken.

“Years of testing, including the FDA’s own testing on prior occasions – and as recently as last month – found no asbestos,” it said.

Shares in Johnson & Johnson fell more than 3% in morning trade.

Legal fight

The recall is the latest bad news for Johnson & Johnson, which is facing billions of dollars in legal claims over other products, including opioids and vaginal mesh implants.

A jury this month awarded $8bn to a man over claims he was not warned that an anti-psychotic drug could lead to breast growth.

As of February, the firm faced more than 13,000 lawsuits over contamination of its talc-based products, including baby powder, with cancer-causing asbestos.

The firm has maintained that its products are safe, but investigations by the New York Times and Reuters last year found that the risks of asbestos in its talc products had worried the company for decades.

Shortly after, the Department of Justice said it was opening an inquiry into the company’s knowledge of asbestos risks in its talc products.

The claims have met with mixed fates in court. Some juries have awarded millions in damages, while others have denied the claims.

Source: bbc

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